BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Bridgeport resident Bill Van Ollefen was named Volunteer of the Year at The Center for Family Justice for his service and commitment to the nonprofit’s mission of transforming victims of domestic and sexual violence into survivors.
Van Ollefen received CFJ’s annual Beatrice Boucher award for outstanding volunteer services from Debra A. Greenwood, CFJ’s president and CEO at the nonprofit’s annual meeting.
The Bridgeport-based CFJ provides crisis and supportive services annually to more than 9,000 residents of Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Stratford and Trumbull who have been impacted by domestic and sexual violence.
Van Ollefen is co-founder of Pathway to Mindfulness, a business that teaches people how to develop a daily 20-minute mindfulness meditation practice.
He was honored for his work teaching mindfulness meditation to CFJ’s clients as part of a wellness initiative to help them cope with trauma.
Van Ollefen is a photographer who frequently donates his skills to capture important CFJ events. He is also a member of its White Ribbon Task Force, which is committed to engaging men and boys in the effort to break the cycles of domestic and sexual violence.
“Bill is such a dedicated and outstanding volunteer that we were delighted to give him an honor he truly deserves,” said Greenwood. “Bill is a kind and generous man who constantly goes out of his way to support our clients and staff and we are grateful for the difference he has made in their lives.”
Van Ollefen said he was surprised and humbled to receive the honor.
“I don’t do any of this for recognition and I am one of many volunteers who are making a contribution,” he said. “But I am happy to be associated with an organization that is doing such important work and saving lives.”
Greenwood said she was especially pleased to give this award to a male volunteer.
“Having men be involved is critical,” said Van Ollefen. “It’s so important to engage them in the efforts to educate and break the cycle. We as men need to visibly support, educate and be proper role models to boys and continue to support their involvement with this mission as they grow into men.”